Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different...Timbers and more

The Timbers opened their season in nice style last night at Multnomah Stadium Civic Stadium PGE Park Jeld-Wen Field with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union.  What stuck me most was the contrast with the slick, fast ball possession and quick counter attack game they played last night with the route 1 punt the ball up to the forward and hope to win the second ball they began last season doing.  I had some slight trepidation that with the arrival of Kris Boyd they would go back to that dismal pointless style.  Fortunately the lesson in football class that was delivered to them by Ajax last year had stuck and they dominated the possession game.  It wasn't always that pretty, it looked like a team in their first game, but it got better and by the second half the Timbers started playing with purpose, energy and desire and it was fun to watch.

Particularly fun, though, was watching four incredibly impressive performances.  First and foremost Kalif Alhassan had his best game ever as a Timber and was the best player on the field, full stop.  He played with extra passion and drive and he finally, finally pulled off one of his spectacular attempts at goal.  Even better he combined well and put in an inch perfect cross to Kris Boyd.  Second, Eric Alexander was a revelation.  He only got a little game time last year usually in late game situations, but last night he started and was a constant threat on the left side.  Third, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 19 years old and playing in his first ever game, was remarkably poised, strong and solid in defense.  He kept it simple and was both unlucky to be at fault on the Union's goal and lucky to score his goal, but looked every bit the part of the prototypical central defender of the future.  And finally, he does it so well and so consistently it is easy to take him for granted, but Jack Jewsbury was simply a rock in the center of the midifeld: he won balls everywhere, was dangerous in combining with the attack and was quick of mind on the ball the sprung Alhassan.  A true captain of the team.

And to add icing to the cake, we got Kris Boyd off to the start he needs to have a successful season.  His runs were intelligent and what he lacked in touch on the ball can hopefully be put down to still getting back into game form.  And to top it all off, we still haven't had Franck Songo'o on the pitch, but with Alhassan and Alexander in top form, he is going to have to fight to get his spot back.

In other footy news:

Ricardo Texiera is FINALLY out as the head of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF).  Long overdue, Texiera, son-in-law of the impossibly corrupt Joao Havelange ran the CBF as a personal fifedom and enriched himself through improper connections with businesses that did business with the CBF.  As soccer legend Romario said: "Today we can celebrate, we exterminated a cancer from Brazilian football. Finally, Ricardo Teixeira resigned." Let's hope that this is yet another step in the very promising anti-corruption reforms of Dilma and that the World Cup preparations can gain some speed.  They need it.  Sao Paulo, for example, is a city of 16-20 million and the main airport is about as big as PDX and a nightmare to fly in and out of.

Arsenal scored an injury time winner over Newcastle to solidify its place in the 4th and final champions league spot in the Premiership and is now but one point behind the despised Tottenham Hotspur.  The one thing that could save the season is pipping Tottenham at the end and finishing above them.


Jeff Alworth said...

What did it feel like inside the newly embiggened PGE Park? How'd the loo's manage?

Josh said...

Alexander was great last night. I like him however was initially worried as his placement, me thinks, was largely due to his reputation, relative to other Timbers, for tracking back defensively. When you put in the defensive liability know as Wallace, you need that extra cover. Chabala is great because he gets after Alhassan/Nagbe to track back but Alexander already does it on his own so Wallace was free to do whatever it is he does...

Patrick Emerson said...


The North End (where it appears most of the extra seats were added) seemed a bit extra cramped. The west stand, where I sit seemed its normally overcrowded mess. So I don't have much of a problem with the extra seats. And if crowded cramped concourses are the price to pay for a wonderful stadium, downtown and full of character, I'll gladly pay it. Compared to the large and accommodating but soul-less Seattle NFL stadium, we have it much better!